When the body does not produce enough of a particular enzyme that is needed to break down a certain type of food, or cannot cope with an overload of food chemicals food intolerance symptoms result. For example, individuals with food intolerance to dairy do not have enough of the enzyme lactose to break down dairy products. As a result, milk, for instance, is not broken down into its simpler form in the body resulting in a number of unpleasant symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhoea and nausea.
Food intolerances are often mistaken for food allergies. The difference is that food intolerances cause reactions that do not involve the immune system. Food allergies can cause life-threatening reactions such as anaphylaxis. That said, it is important to not undermine intolerances or sensitivities to certain types of foods. Symptoms associated with food intolerance can become worse with time in some cases. Ignoring these symptoms will not allow you to get to the root of the problem so that you can live a healthy life free of symptoms.
Intolerance to dairy, nuts and wheat are fairly common. However, there are also many people who have an intolerance to the additives and chemical preservatives that are commonly added to drinks and food items. These include monosodium glutamate, sulphites, aspartame, benzoates, tartrazine and salicylates.
There is often a strong genetic component to food intolerance. For instance, between 70-90 percent of people with ancestry from Asia, Africa, the Mediterranean, or who are of Native American descent lack sufficient amounts of lactose and are, therefore, lactose intolerant. According to Dr. Trisha Macnair, about 50 percent of Asian people have a deficiency of the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase, which results in alcohol intolerance.
If you experience abdominal pain, digesting problems, diarrhea, nausea, bloating or other unpleasant symptoms after eating a meal, it is worth investigating the matter. Determining what ingredients in your food or drink are causing the symptoms will allow you to take a focused approach on changing your diet.